Basic Whole Wheat Bread

I try to use the winter months to learn something new, a skill that I am usually too busy to undertake during the summer, when the garden is in bloom and the kids are home from school. Last year, I taught myself how to make some excellent soap, which we are still using… but this year, I wanted to learn more about the art of leaven bread. Without getting fancy, I wanted to understand how to make a basic bread that could be used for sandwiches, toast, dinner rolls, etc….

I drew my inspiration for this recipe from the CIA’s Basic Lean Loaf, which is the standard at our school. I scaled it down and made it 50/50 all-purpose (universal) flour and whole-wheat (I use one that has wheat germ flakes in it).  After many tweaks to the exact grams, I don’t even have to sprinkle my work surface with dough. The water/flour ratio is spot on! Since you will probably using a different brand of flour your results should vary only slightly, but please share with me your experiences.

Makes one loaf in a 30cm x 10cm (12″ x 4″) tin

330 g flour ( 50% all-purpose/ 50% whole wheat)
3 – 5 g dry yeast
10g salt
220g warm water

  • Weigh flours and yeast, combine in a bowl. Pour mixture on a clean work surface, create a well in the center.
  • Measure water and salt, combine. Swish the water and salt together to speed dissolution. 
  • Pour water mixture in the well. Pull the flour into the center from the walls of flour well. You want to combine it quickly, so the water is still warm when it touches the yeast.
  • Bring the dough together and knead for a few minutes 3 – 5, till it is smooth and a bit sticky to the touch.
  • Put dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic or a dish cloth (tea towel) and let rise till doubled about 2 hours.
  • After two hours, turn the dough over lightly a few times, while inside the bowl and return to rest till doubled again about 2 hours.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl, knead and shape till it will either fit in your tin or in the shape of your free-form loaf or loaves.
  • Final rise, not that it is shaped let it rise again till about doubled or it is over the rim of your baking tin. Pre-heat oven to 425C
  • Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. The exterior of the loaf should be firm and crusty, yet when you knock on the exterior it should give off a hollow sound.
  • Once you remove it from the oven, remove the tin, if you are using one, so that the steam can escape and not make your bread soggy. Let cool on a wire rack.
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Flour tortillas… for tortilla pie!

I am trying to simplify my dinner recipes because sometime, if you couldn’t tell, I make things a little too complicated.  Aside from choosing recipes that are less labor intensive, I am trying to plan meals weekly rather than relying on primal cravings.  While in Australia, Ness introduced me to this great shop called kikki.K, which has amazing stationary and organizational tools.  They have this meal planner pad, which beside having a great look, is something to get me thinking ahead.
While surfing the web, I came across a cluster or recipes on Martha about meatless comfort food… lasagna, casserole, macaroni and cheese, tortilla pie… Normally I don’t go vegetarian because my husband doesn’t consider something a meal unless there is meat.  Maybe it is a Bulgarian thing… I don’t know.
So, tonight I am going to prepare Tortilla and Black-Bean Pie, which is pretty straight forward, but I don’t have tortillas readily available in Bulgaria, so I will have to whip some up.  Thankfully, there is a wonderful site called Homesick Texan and they have a recipe for flour tortillas, where you don’t need any lard or shortening.
This was the third time that I have made these tortillas and the first time I used only all-purpose flour.  The result were the best yet.  I still have trouble getting them perfectly round, but I am not that anal.
Combine dry ingredients
3/4 cup warm milk & 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Combine oil with dry ingredients
Slowly add the warm milk and whisk
You will have a loose stick ball, knead for 2 minutes on a lightly floured surface ( I used cornstarch)
Let rest for 20 minutes covered with plastic wrap
Divide into 8 even-ish pieces and let rest again covered with plastic wrap
Roll out to a thin circle
Cook in a hot skillet and watch it, only a few seconds depending on how thin you rolled it
Flip and cook a few seconds more
Transfer to a paper towel and cover with another one or the steam will make them soggy.

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